Has ‘unsheltered homelessness’ really dropped 20% in Seattle in 2019? Probably not

Numbers of “unsheltered homeless” individuals from the county’s annual tally. The full report is below.

The 2019 King County point-in-time count homelessness which reported some dramatic drops in homelessness was met with scrutiny this week in a King County Council briefing.

Throughout the county, the total homeless population decreased by 8% from last year, to 11,199, according to the annual count performed by All Home KC in late January, the data from which should be taken with a grain of salt despite being the most consistent indicator of trends in the region.

According to the 2019 data, the county tally found 17% fewer individuals “experiencing unsheltered homelessness” while Seattle saw an even more dramatic drop of 20% as 3,558 individuals were reported experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the city.

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With short-term plans for new protected bike lanes by end of 2019, report released on long-term community priorities for Pike/Pine

(Image: Central Seattle Greenways)

The next hill has been summited in the process to add protected bike lanes to Pike/Pine has wrapped up as Central Seattle Greenways published its outreach findings and recommendations focused on the desire for a continuous and sensible route, safety, and predictable traffic flows.

One message clearly emerged. Community members who responded to the survey including riders, residents, and business owners said a continuous, unbroken eastbound bikeway on Pike and another westbound one on Pine should be a priority. It’s called the “Pike Pine Renaissance design.”

UPDATE: Meanwhile, despite not being an option on the questionnaire, many said they would like to see the Renaissance lanes — a continuous eastbound street on Pike and a westbound one on Pine.

“Creating a couplet of one-way streets all the way to Broadway provides clarity for people walking, biking, and driving; delivers a more intuitive route that cyclists are more likely to use; and shares the perceived burden and benefits of a bike lane for business owners on both Pike and Pine,” CSG writes on its website.

While it would take more outreach to make this happen, Brie Gyncild, co-leader of CSG, said this is her favorite option, although she was not originally a believer.

“Over and over again, what we heard people saying is ‘we just want to extend the Pike/Pine Renaissance all the way up to Broadway,’” Gyncild said. “It’s more intuitive for people biking; it’s more intuitive for people walking; people like the Pike Pine Renaissance design, they like the more pedestrian-oriented feel.” Continue reading

For the first time in more than a decade, Gossett faces challenge to represent CD, Capitol Hill on King County Council

Girmay Zahilay, left, is set to challenge King County Council veteran Larry Gossett for the District 2 seat representing the Central District and Capitol Hill.

While much of CHS’s attention on Election 2019 has been focused on the race for the District 3 seat on the Seattle City Council, for the first time in more than a decade, a competitive race is shaping up for the District 2 seat on the King County Council as a young upstart flush with cash challenges a Washington civil rights icon first elected to the council in 1993.

Larry Gossett, former council chair and longtime incumbent, will have a competitor to remain on the council for the first time in 14 years with South Seattle lawyer and nonprofit leader Girmay Zahilay mounting a serious challenge.

The county needs to “target the equitable development of educational opportunities for all our kids, but with a particular focus on low-income and minority kids who are being left further and further behind,” Gossett said. Continue reading

Business reps call for support at Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce’s summer safety meeting

The wave of shootings across the Central District that have left a 19-year-old dead and others wounded gained its terrible strength in a shooting weeks ago in March in Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson where 21-year-old Hakeem Salahud-din was gunned down next to the park’s basketball court.

Police, Mayor Jenny Durkan, and City Council representative Kshama Sawant have focused much of their efforts in the Central District to stem the violence. But gun violence incidents on Broadway and in Pike/Pine, and fears of an increase in street disorder as summer approaches also have the neighborhood’s business community concerned.

Seattle Police Department and mayor’s office representatives spoke earlier this month with Capitol Hill business representatives to discuss crime and street disorder throughout Pike/Pine and along Broadway as summer quickly approaches.

The event, hosted by the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce at Elliott Bay Book Company and moderated by the chamber’s head and District 3 candidate Egan Orion, looked to give locals an opportunity to air grievances and priorities as well as allow the city to give an update on the state of crime in the neighborhood.

SPD East Precinct commander Capt. Bryan Grenon said that in the area there has been a 4-5% reduction in crime overall as of the beginning of the month but crime statistics are ripe for abuse in a community forum. You can look at the latest SPD stats for the East Precinct covering Capitol Hill here on the CHS Crime Dashboard. Beyond the statistics, there has been a spike in violent crime with eleven shootings in 30 days taking place across Capitol Hill and the Central District.

The first area of emphasis in the meeting was the reasoning for a lack of SPD emphasis patrol in Capitol Hill given high crime levels in the area as the Mayor’s office chose seven other neighborhoods instead. Sabrina Bolieu, business liaison for Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office, explained, saying that they were looking for areas with increases in person-on-person crime and Capitol Hill has simply sustained its crime level. Continue reading

Sawant scores ‘no consensus’ victory in the 37th — UPDATE

A few of the D3 candidates looking calm during a long Monday night meeting (Image: 37th District Democrats)

The evening began with an eager standing-room only crowd. More than three and a half hours later, the meeting ended with candidate pamphlets scattered and no consensus reached on an endorsement of the 37th District Democrats Monday night for the hotly-contested District 3 race.

A concerted effort by the Kshama Sawant campaign helped cement a “no consensus” vote as the 37th met Monday night to decide if the candidates deserved the group’s backing ahead of the August primary. The 37th District Dems only formally endorse members of the Democratic Party. Sawant, the incumbent and a member of the Socialist Alternative political group, high fived an aide after the final results were announced at the Ethiopian Community Center Monday night.

UPDATE: CHS has corrected the headline and story to recognized the formal “no endorsement” vote also failed and, instead, the decision reached was a formal “no consensus. Chase Cross, 1st Vice Chair, 37th Legislative District Democrats, notified us about our error and also takes issue with our positioning of the lack of endorsement in the vote:

I read your story about our recent endorsements meeting and there is a big correction needed: The “No Endorsement” position, which would be interpreted as a victory for Sawant (since she is ineligible for our endorsement), was declared the winner. That is flat incorrect — we reached the “No Consensus” position, which is different. No Consensus means that after balloting three times, no candidate and the No Endorsement position have all failed to achieve the 60% threshold. Characterizing it as a “win” for Sawant is inaccurate because not only did the No Endorsement position not pass on any ballot, but Zach DeWolfe also won a majority on every ballot except the final dual endorsement motion with Pat Murakami (a ballot on which No Endorsement” was not available.

The decision in the 37th can be chalked up as a loss for the most progressive of Sawant’s opponents and one candidate who considers the state congressional district her home turf.

“The Chamber of Commerce and Amazon are fighting to take City Hall back to business as usual corporate politics,” Sawant said earlier in the night as she addressed the 37th. “Their role goal in District 3? Anybody but Kshama Sawant. Why? Because they know that my office for the last five years has unwaveringly stood by and represented working people, people of color, and marginalized communities.” Continue reading

15 things CHS heard at the 43rd District Dems D3 forum

You can view video from the debate on the 43rd District Dems Facebook page

The 43rd District Democrats contributed to a rush of candidate forums Saturday afternoon with its event featuring six candidates for the Seattle City Council’s District 3 seat, which includes Capitol Hill and the Central District, discussing issues like homelessness, climate change, and even their favorite mayors in city history. The day also included the most direct political attack by a challenger on the incumbent yet.

While Pat Murakami’s call for a used cruise ship to house the city’s unsheltered population didn’t make a second appearance, Logan Bowers continued his push for a triplex on every block and incumbent Kshama Sawant continued her crusade for rent control and social housing.

The 43rd District Democrats will also be hosting a “Ballots & Bubbly” event Tuesday night at 7 PM at The Riveter, where many of the D3 candidates can talk to voters in smaller settings, and Seattle University will be hosting a marathon of district race town halls on Sunday.

15 things CHS heard at the 43rd District Dems D3 forum

  1. The forum featured one of the clearest rebukes of Sawant’s tenure yet in one of these events from Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce head Egan Orion, who accused the incumbent of being more focused on raising her national profile and money for the Socialist Alternative party: “She’s neglected the people of District 3.” He added moments later: “We need sound policy, not soundbites; we need a council member who will seek out constituents not a camera and a podium.” He said, if elected, he would have office hours in cafes in the district to talk to voters. Continue reading

With District 3 candidates forum season underway, Speak Out Seattle leads with homelessness, displacement in the Central District, and gun violence

The controversial but increasingly influential political group Speak Out Seattle hosted a forum for District 3 city council candidates to discuss issues of homelessness, displacement in the Central District, and gun violence among others over the course of the event that took place Tuesday evening in front of a standing-room only crowd at the Northwest African American Museum.

The first question of the evening from Speak Out Seattle stemmed from an issue that is informing much of this year’s city council races: the failed head tax.

“Look, big business has to do more to pay their fair share,” said Zachary DeWolf, the first out gay Seattle Public Schools board member, also arguing that the head tax has dominated the debate too much. “Everyday we talk about this unsuccessful policy, we have not talked about the other ideas, which are increasing the local estate tax” as well as basing fees and fines on income levels. (DeWolf is the only candidate to have written for CHS)

Council member Kshama Sawant, the Socialist Alternative incumbent, was the sole candidate to voice continued support for the tax. Continue reading

United States Postal Service weighing two options for new Central District post office

At a meeting Thursday at the Garfield Community Center, a United States Postal Service representative, flanked by Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, laid out two likely Central District options for permanently replacing the former location on 23rd Ave vacated as a major housing and retail development moves in.

“We know that post offices are a vital part of any healthy community,” Sawant said before quickly pivoting to the issue of high rents and displacement. Her staffers were handing out packets on her rent control proposal prior to the meeting. Continue reading

With forum and debate season underway, D3 candidates talk homelessness, small biz, and ‘a Green New Deal for ordinary working people’ with some of their youngest constituents

In a Sunday afternoon forum and an early test of their platforms as they speed toward an August primary, four candidates for the Seattle City Council’s District 3 seat — including current council member Kshama Sawant who called for a “a Green New Deal for ordinary working people” — answered questions from some of their youngest constituents on a range of issues from homelessness to small business development.

The event, led by the King County Young Democrats, hosted forums for five of this year’s Council races. The other three D3 candidates were urbanist Logan Bowers, Seattle School Board Director Zachary DeWolf, and public defender Ami Nguyen, while neighborhood activist Pat Murakami and Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce head Egan Orion were not invited to participate due to time constraints.

UPDATE 4/29/2018 9:05 AM: KCYD chair Derek Richards offered this explanation for the invitation decisions:

There are about 57 candidates whom have declared for Seattle City Council, it is literally impossible to have a forum to include all of them and not have the meeting be a 12 hour marathon. With the candidates we had it still took 3.5 hours. It sounds like you are more interested in many of the other great organizations and neighborhood councils that will be hosting district specific candidate forums in the months leading up to the primary vote where you will be able to hear all of their opinions and I would encourage you to attend those.

UPDATE x2: Richards provided some more context on the decision around D3 in a message to CHS:

Since we were fitting 5 different districts in our meeting we had decided 3 candidates per district to keep the forum around 3 hours. For district 3 we did number of individual contributors, which gave us Councilmember Sawant, Logan Bowers and Ami Nguyen. Then the day we were going to send invites Zach DeWolf announced and had 2 city council endorsements and all the school board endorsements so we made an exception for D3 to have 4 candidates. However all candidates are welcome to speak at our endorsements meeting on Sunday May 19th at the WSLC between 5 and 7.

No matter the question, Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative political organization, pivoted to affordable housing concerns and her push for rent control. She repeatedly decried the council for its handling of the head tax and its overall lack of political courage. Answering a question on waste management, the council member called for a large-scale climate overhaul led by Seattle.

“The bottom line that we need, in terms of a Green New Deal for ordinary working people, is a massive public works program to expand transit and affordable housing and, primarily, what we need is social housing,” Sawant said, calling for a tax on big business to fund this publicly-funded and -owned housing proposal. Continue reading

Stacey Abrams on our Capitol Hill: ‘I didn’t say I wouldn’t run, I just said I wasn’t announcing anything’

Stacey Abrams first set the goal of running for the presidency 25 years ago.

After breaking up with a boyfriend, Abrams, who acknowledges she is “bad at dating,” says she created a spreadsheet laying out her goals, including being Atlanta mayor — the ceiling for black people, she thought at the time — a millionaire, and an author.

In about 1994, one of her friends, a white Republican man from South Carolina who she worked in the Clinton White House through a fellowship asked her the shocking question: “Stacey, when are you running for president?”

“President of what?” she recounted asking in response.

He reassured her that she could do it.

“What shames me to this day is that I did not believe him,” Abrams said at a sold-out Town Hall Seattle event Thursday night at Capitol Hill’s Temple De Hirsch Sinai.

“This moment where this person who was becoming my friend saw possibility in me, I immediately rejected it because there had never been a black man, a black woman, a woman ever to be a viable candidate.”

After that conversation, she went home and updated the spreadsheet to say that she would run for president of the United States. Continue reading